Rock festivals roll on as Germany reels from rough weather

The show must go on, as a major annual rock festival in western Germany resumed late Saturday after storms and lightning injured dozens of people and disrupted the event for nearly 24 hours.

The problems getting the second day of the Rock am Ring show running were part of the havoc in Germany from a week of extreme weather that has left parts of southern Germany under water, causing in an estimated 1 billion euros (1.1 billion dollars) of damage.

Rock am Ring organizers got the show re-started late Saturday, several hours behind schedule, using two stages to squeeze in as many bands as possible. The three-day concert typically brings out a variety of headliners - this year's slate included the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Black Sabbath.

Earlier, organizers had cautioned that the Saturday show "might last into the early morning," pending official approval. Twenty minutes later, the festival website carried an alert advising people to take shelter from a storm about to hit the former Mendig airbase, where the stages are erected.

Up to 82 people may have been hit by one lightning blast late Friday, including 15 reported to be seriously injured.

Live music performances were suspended for about 90 minutes late Friday while rescue teams dealt with the injured. The festival resumed later with about 90,000 fans in attendance.

Given the forecast for more storms during the rest of the weekend, Roger Lewentz, interior minister for the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, in which the festival is taking place, told dpa: "I don't expect Rock am Ring to take place on Sunday."

Last year's festival was affected by a lightning storm, in which 33 people were injured.

On the other side of the country, in Nuremburg in southern Germany, the affiliated Rock im Park concert suffer about 30 minutes of heavy rain and thunder but continued otherwise unabated. By then, many concertgoers had fled the main stage area, some taking shelter in the festival camping grounds, leaving a core of stuborn fans to enjoy the music in muddy conditions.

Until the storms struck the festival in western Germany, most of the weather-related problems this week were in southern Germany.

Residents evacuated following a landslide were allowed to return to their homes in the south-western town of Schwaebisch Gmuend.

Floods in other parts of Germany - where at least seven people have been killed in recent days - brought out so many volunteers offering to help that traffic jams arose.

Police in the lower Bavarian town of Simbach am Inn said they did not need any more help Saturday as there was nowhere left to park, and those arriving could not reach flooded areas.

Simbach Mayor Klaus Schmid urged volunteers to turn back.

One thousand people turned out Friday to help with the Simbach flood effort, with an even higher number arriving on Saturday.

The flooding might have caused more than 1 billion euros worth of damage, according to a local official.

"More than 5,000 households have been affected, 500 homes severely damaged that cannot be saved," said District Administrator Michael Fahmueller, noting that 200 bridges were destroyed and stretches of road have been rendered impassable.

He said the area needs immediate assistance, recalling the quick response parts of eastern Germany received after 2013 floods.

The German Weather Service issued further storm warnings for the south-west of Germany on Saturday as a result of cyclone Frederike. A weak jet stream means the cyclone's storms are moving very slowly across the region.

The storm cell's sluggish movement is causing localized heavy precipitation, meteorologist Christian Herold told dpa.

Rain and hailstorms were expected to continue into Sunday in south-western Germany.

In the north of the country, the sun was shining and summer temperatures of up to 28 degrees Celsius were expected to continue for the weekend.

The weather service forecast a break in the weather early next week.

Last update: Thu, 07/07/2016 - 13:10
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